Release: Out now
Wii Sports Resort is many things. The sequel to the most popular single-format videogame of all time. The pack-in justification for a peripheral upgrade that, many will argue, only delivers the Wii functionality originally implied by Nintendo itself. The Kyoto giant’s major software launch and system seller in a year when its detractors are rubbing their hands with glee, citing sluggish sales of the previously unstoppable Wii as evidence that the empire is finally beginning to crumble. It is even, beneath all these layers, an occasionally great videogame.
Sports Resort almost gets off to a flyer with the three modes of Swordplay, but the niggles here are emblematic of the game as a whole. Sword Slice is a reaction test: objects are thrown at two Miis, overlaid with the direction of swing required, and the first player to respond correctly gets a point. It’s perhaps a little generous in interpreting the swings – a horizontal left-to-right slash, for example, will count when diagonal left-toright directions are given – but never less than frantic fun. Duel mode misses the MotionPlus point altogether: a determined waggler will frequently win out over someone trying to use the Remote like a sword – and why do you have to hold down a button to block attacks?
The Swordplay Showdown mode is a singleplayer romp through tens of opponents, an energetic and magnificent extended battle, with one fairly big problem: the MotionPlus frequently loses its position. The device is somewhat self-righting, gradually sorting itself out over time, but you’ll often find yourself stopping to recalibrate the accessory. The fact that this begins automatically when the game is paused, along with the reminders that pop up telling you to do so, tells its own story.
So the MotionPlus technology has its problems. Not as a one-to-one sensor, but as a controller accessory that needs a little rest more frequently than the player does. Fortunately it’s not as pronounced in any other Sports Resort mode, though we’ve also experienced it in longer Table Tennis rallies, the accessory requiring syncing before nearly every game in fourplayer sessions. Place these niggles in the context of the MotionPlus delivering one-to-one motion sensing and they seem minor, but, when compared to the hassle-free vanilla Remote, it makes Nintendo’s vision of accessible gaming for all somewhat more complicated.
Far more serious is the fact that only canoeing offers simultaneous play for four players, and of the games that can handle two players at once – Table Tennis, Swordplay, Basketball, Cycling, Power Cruising and Air Sports – only the first two are really any good. Basketball is truly limp, and cries out for the use of the Nunchuk and a little more ambition. Cycling is done much better in Wii Fit Plus, believe it or not, where the combination of controls and Balance Board approximate the real thing more accurately, and the challenges around it are more explorative and fun than Sports Resort’s drudging races. Power Cruising uses the Nunchuk unnecessarily, in a poor attempt to disguise the fact it’s another tilt-to-steer minigame, and fails to create much of a sensation of movement across the waves. Air Sports is mixed: skydiving is hardly involving, but the delicious little touch of making you pose your Mii for photos every so often drags the player in; an island flyover is dull (of which more later); while the dogfighting is a game mode so unremarkable, so boring, so Popcorn Arcade, that it hardly seems fit for release under the Nintendo brand.